After an unconventional end to the 2020 season due to COVID-19, eyes have already turned toward free agency and the draft. Some key dates have yet to be determined, and 2019 spending deprived a number of teams of 2020 cap space even before the pandemic hit. However, there is still plenty of room for player movement and draft pick-ups moving forward. Here is a glance at five potential moves that could go down in the offseason:
Danny Green gets traded to the Mavericks
The Mavericks tried to sign the three-time NBA champion last year, but with Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the court for the Lakers, the shooting guard went with the clear front-running team. Green has great versatility and playoff experience, and could still be a huge asset to the Mavericks if they successfully trade for him next season. And with the aftermath of Green’s missed three late in Game 5, his field goal percentage sitting at 34% for the postseason and a favorable contract with the Lakers, he could be more likely than ever to now make the move.
First Team All-NBA guard Luka Dončić would give the opposition more nightmares than he already has with the help of Green. With Dončić’s midrange floaters coupled with his crafty ability to attack the basket, Green’s versatility to play at the two, three or four would make Dallas a threat when mismatched against opponents off pick-and-rolls. Taking that duo and adding Kristaps Porziņģis will make the offense that much more dangerous: The 25-year-old averaged more than 20 points this past season and is averaging almost 40% from three-point range. Add that to spot up three-point shooter Seth Curry, and the Mavericks will be a threat from anywhere on the court.
Most importantly, Dallas could use Green’s lockdown defense and tenacity. He averages 1.2 steals per game, and Doncic could certainly use the help as his lack of lateral speed leaves opponents with an open lane to the basket more often than not.
With his versatility on both ends of the court, combined with his championship pedigree, Green would make a huge impact for Dallas if the team picks him up for the 2021 season.
The Warriors trade No. 2 draft pick and sign LaMarcus Aldridge
With Kevon Looney plagued by injuries and Klay Thompson returning from a torn ACL to give any team trouble in three-point range, the Warriors are looking to complete their roster with a center. In the past decade, the three-time champs have had a center who can see the court and kick out the ball to the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Thompson.
For many years, coach Steve Kerr used Andrew Bogut’s offensive arsenal at every opportunity. The 7-foot center’s court vision allowed his teammates open looks at the three point line and easily dished them the ball when cutting backdoor to the basket. Unfortunately, neither Zaza Pachulia nor JaVale McGee were able to fit the mold as well as Bogut. From winning their third ring of this decade in 2018 to losing to the Raptors in the 2019 Finals, to not even making the playoffs this year, the team is desperately looking to amplify their core lineup.
Now entering the season with just three centers on the roster and a No. 2 pick for the 2020 draft, the team could easily trade its pick for a well-esteemed center. The Warriors have a lot of youth in the post, but perhaps a veteran with great court vision to match that of Bogut is what they need. Aldridge is just that.
The 35-year-old veteran would be the perfect addition to the Golden State roster. He is a huge force in the paint, often converting points off of tip-ins or kicking out rebounds to the perimeter for an open look. Combine his ability to finish and see the open player with Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green’s offense and the Warriors could easily be a high-tier Western Conference threat to the Lakers next season.
With three of the best Spurs players in their mid-30s and the team breaking its 22-year postseason streak of making it to the playoffs, the team is more so looking to rebuild. The Spurs have some young talent that they could easily build around moving forward, including Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. Clinching a No. 2 draft pick from the Warriors could be just what they need to pick up more young talent and get some momentum going for the 2021 season.
Steven Adams goes to the Celtics
Boston got outmatched in the paint by the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Big forces such as Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragić gave the team trouble as they picked up a number of second-chance opportunities and gave key players like Jayson Tatum no room on offense. Al Horford’s presence as a center was certainly missed as he was traded to the 76ers, and an inexperienced big man could not fill that void. Similar to the Warriors, the Celtics are looking for a center to fit their starting lineup mold. This is where Steven Adams could come into play.
Averaging almost a double-double in the 2020 postseason, Adams can be seen as one of the strongest players in the league. The 7-foot, 265-pound center sets incredibly hard screens that give his teammates open looks while allowing him to finish hard at the rim when there’s a mismatch.
Adams has been with the Thunder since 2013, when the team drafted him in the first round. As much as the center has been a great impact for the team, his heavy contract and the team’s potential may influence the team to continue looking for young prospects. That being said, if Chris Paul departs from the team, as he very well could, the Thunder could also hold onto Adams and renew his contract.
OKC, looking to go young with an imminent rebuild, could easily get a new draft pick from the Celtics in exchange for Adams.
James Wiseman falls outside the top five for the 2020 draft
The 19-year-old center from Memphis has been projected to be a top-three pick in the 2020 draft. With his dominant height of 7' 1" and wingspan of 7' 6", Wiseman could very well be picked up by the Warriors if they choose to keep their No. 2 pick. However, while the young talent did average 19.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and three blocks in his college career, he did so in only three games. With his lack of court vision and limited game experience past the high school level, Wiseman could easily be deemed overrated and fall out of the top five.
Teams have barely been able to evaluate Wiseman. He suffered a 12-game suspension due to Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway giving him financial support for his move from Nashville to Memphis in 2017. While Hardaway was not yet a coach for the Tigers during this time, he was considered to be a booster for the program after donating money to the school in 2008. His ineligibility impeding him from gameplay combined with COVID-19 canceling the remainder of the 2020 college basketball season resulted in Wiseman’s lack of higher-tier competition experience moving forward.
In his three games against South Carolina, UIC and Oregon, reports from The Stepien indicated the center’s general lack of court intuition. Additionally, his free throw percentage may have stood over 75% in college, but during a EYBL Peach Jam tournament, as well as at Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, Wiseman shot between 38% and 59% from the line.
Wiseman has strength in rebounding and finishing at the rim, but his limited shooting range and poor court vision could stifle any team offensively. Even if the Warriors intend to keep their No. 2 pick to find a strong center, Wiseman could be too much of a risk to take to fit the mold they are looking for.
Chris Paul traded to the 76ers, Al Horford and Matisse Thybulle to the Thunder
The 76ers were swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs this year, and if the team wants to win a ring with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons still in the lineup, Chris Paul would be a no-brainer pick.
Simmons has without a doubt created a lot of points for the Sixers. But, the 6' 10" point guard has been putting up more numbers in the paint than out on the perimeter. More often than not, Simmons will shy away from the outside shot. In game-clinching opportunities, this mentality could easily hurt the Sixers. That being said, Simmons still averaged 16.4 points and eight assists last season, and that combined with Embiid’s blowing by defenders on picks and post-ups gives Philadelphia great depth down low.
With Simmons taking a bigger role down in the post, the Sixers still desperately need a ballhandler and facilitator that brings a threat along the perimeter. Adding a playmaker and outside shooter like Paul to the roster will help spread the Philadelphia offense, and the 35-year-old veteran brings a wealth of experience, as well.
It would be a perfect fit for the Sixers as Paul would also reunite with coach Doc Rivers, but the Thunder are likely to have a number of draft picks already. The Sixers could potentially trade Al Horford and Matisse Thybulle along with a draft pick. By giving up Chris Paul and taking on Horford, OKC could reduce its salary cap and have more flexibility for building a new roster.